January 2015

January 2015

>> Market UpdateQUOTE OF THE WEEK... "It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it."--Somerset Maugham, British playwright, novelist and short story writerINFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE... We all want 2015 to be the best year yet, and there are some encouraging signs. The home price index from a major analytics firm shows that, excluding distressed sales, home prices nationwide increased 5.3% in November versus November a year ago, with all states and the District of Columbia reporting gains. This marks 33 straight months of year-over-year home price appreciation. The firm's CEO commented, "The pace of home price gains has slowed as we exit 2014 but this is probably only a temporary lull.... We believe that prices will be up a year from now as continued economic growth fuels buyer confidence." A national listing site reported that asking prices on for-sale homes were up 0.5% in December, slowing after big gains the prior three months. Year-over-year, asking prices were ahead 7.7%, down slightly from the annual gain a year ago, but higher prices were seen in 97 out of the 100 largest U.S. metros. A major consumer polling company reported consumer spending hit a six-year high in December, with upper-, middle- and lower-income Americans all having higher monthly readings, a good sign for the housing market. Finally, it was reassuring to see private residential construction up 0.3% in November.BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK... Effective presentations have four "telling" parts: Intro (tell them what you're going to tell them); Body (tell it to them); Conclusion (tell them what you told them); Call To Action (tell them to do something). >> Review of Last WeekVERY VERY VOLATILE... The new year's first full week of trading saw the Dow go up and down by triple digits all five days, with the three major stock indexes down again for the week. Economic data followed the up and down theme. ISM Services showed growth slowing in December for that sector of the economy, but the November Trade Deficit shrank unexpectedly. Investors pretty much ignored the FOMC Minutes from the Fed's December meeting, since that document provided no new insight into when rates may begin rising. Dropping oil prices (bad news for energy stocks), Eurozone deflation concerns, and terrorist crises in France were obvious negatives.But it was the December Employment Report that generated big trader reactions in both directions. Upside feelings were stirred by the 252,000 Nonfarm Payrolls added. This was in line with 2014's average monthly gains, adding up to a year with the most job growth since 1999. Problem is, most of the new payrolls were for low-paying retail and service jobs. Average hourly earnings suffered a 0.2% drop, the biggest in eight years. And the 1.7% year-over-year wage growth was the smallest since October 2012. The Unemployment Rate dropped to 5.6%, but workforce participation is now at 62.7%, the lowest since December 1977.The week ended with the Dow down 0.5%, to 17737; the S&P 500 down 0.7%, to 2045; and the Nasdaq down 0.5%, to 4704.As the stock market made big moves in both directions, many investors sought the safe harbor of bonds. Prices went up, driving yields and mortgage rates down. The 30YR FNMA 4.0% bond we watch finished the week UP .73, at $107.03. Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ended January 8 showed national average fixed mortgage rates beginning the year near historical lows. Remember, mortgage rates can be extremely volatile, so check with your mortgage professional for up to the minute information. DID YOU KNOW?... In Fannie Mae's December National Housing Survey, 52% of those polled think it would be easy to get a home mortgage, which equaled an all-time survey high. >> This Week’s Forecast RETAIL UP A LITTLE, INFLATION OK, CONSUMERS HOPEFUL... Economists expect Retail Sales to be up a measly 0.1% in December, not so happy for the holiday selling season. Prices couldn't have been the prob, as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is predicted down overall, and the Core CPI, excluding food and energy prices, up only slightly. Nonetheless, folks are feeling better about things economic, as Michigan Consumer Sentiment is expected to keep heading up! >> The Week’s Economic Indicator CalendarWeaker than expected economic data tends to send bond prices up and interest rates down, while positive data points to lower bond prices and rising loan rates. Economic Calendar for the Week of Jan 12 – Jan 16 DateTime (ET)ReleaseForConsensusPriorImpactTuJan 1314:00Federal BudgetDec$3.0B+$53.2BModerateWJan 1408:30Retail SalesDec0.1%0.7%HIGHWJan 1408:30Retail Sales ex-autosDec0.1%0.5%HIGHWJan 1410:00Business InventoriesNov0.3%0.2%ModerateWJan 1410:30Crude Inventories1/10NA–3.062MModerateWJan 1414:00Fed's Beige BookJanNANAModerateThJan 1508:30Initial Unemployment Claims1/10293K294KModerateThJan 1508:30Continuing Unemployment Claims1/32.400M2.452MModerateThJan 1508:30Producer Price Index (PPI)Dec–0.4%–0.2%ModerateThJan 1508:30Core PPIDec0.1%0.0%ModerateThJan 1508:30NY Empire Manufacturing IndexJan7.0–3.6ModerateThJan 1510:00Philadelphia Federal IndexJan19.024.3HIGHFJan 1608:30Consumer Price Index (CPI)Dec–0.4%–0.3%HIGHFJan 1608:30Core CPIDec0.1%0.1%HIGHFJan 1609:15Industrial ProductionDec0.0%1.3%ModerateFJan 1609:15Capacity UtilizationDec80.0%80.1%ModerateFJan 1609:55Univ. of Michigan Consumer SentimentJan94.193.6Moderate >> Federal Reserve Watch Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months... Although most economists believe the Fed will begin raising the Funds Rate this year, many think the hike will start later, rather than sooner. And some now suspect the increase will be small. Note: In the lower chart, the probability of change is rated "Low" if few economists think the rate will rise, "Moderate" or "High" if more think it will go up.Current Fed Funds Rate: 0%–0.25%After FOMC meeting on:Consensus Jan 280%–0.25%Mar 180%–0.25%Apr 290%–0.25%Probability of change from current policy:After FOMC meeting on:Consensus Jan 28 LowMar 18 LowApr 29 Low

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